Public sector employees get extended weekend for Saudi National Day

September 21, 2012

A decision to give Saudi Arabia’s students and public sector employees two days off to mark the National Day does not extend to the private sector, the labour ministry spokesman has said.

“The National Day break for private sector employees will be on Sunday only,” Hattab Bin Saleh Al Anzi, the labour spokesman, said. “We have received several calls from the media on the issue and we confirm that according to the labour law, the break will be only one day,” he said.

Saudi Arabia last week announced that Sunday (September 23) would be off for all public and private sector employees to mark the country’s national day.

Rumours posted in social networks that the government would also give Saturday off to join the two-day weekend and the National Day break were initially denied.

However, King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz on Wednesday ordered that government employees and students at all levels be given Saturday off as well.

The decision grants them a four-day holiday (Thursday-Sunday) almost one month ahead of a 16-day break that coincides with the annual pilgrimage season.

Saudis were prompt to heap praise on King Abdullah online for his decision to extend the weekend. However, private sector employees will once more highlight the holidays’ discrepancy with those working in the public sector.

Up to 2004, Saudi Arabia did not give the day off on National Day and the practice was introduced in September 2005 by King Abdullah one month after he succeeded his deceased brother King Fahd as ruler of the country.

Up to King Abdullah’s decision, Riyadh celebrated only Eid Al Fitr, at the end of Ramadan, the sacred month of Muslims, and Eid Al Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, associated with the annual pilgrimage. Both holidays lasted more than one week.

Conservative forces had always insisted that only religious occasions should be celebrated and that all other occasions be treated without celebration or fanfare.

However, King Abdullah whose reform stances, especially towards women, are increasingly obvious has been able to overcome their resistance and change reality on the ground.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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